....So homebrewing supply stores are changing and attracting investors.
No more LHBS anymore?
The fact that investors are interested is a pretty solid indicator that the hobby (just like the small brewery boom) is entering a new era. Soon the norm will be conversations like this...
Man 1: "I brew my own beer"
Man 2: "Well...doesn't everyone???"
Regarding the outside investment, growth is not a bad thing if attention is still paid to quality and customer service. I wish NB well; they have a great rep, stock everything under the sun, and good prices.
In general, I opt for paying a small amount more and supporting my local merchants's goods and services (the practice which sadly, like many things, seems to be falling by the wayside lately among many folks).
But it's very nice indeed to have companies like NB around for some harder to get items, or things not normally stocked by smaller stores.